Managers of coffee factories within Murang’a County have been warned over colluding with thieves to steal farmers produce.
The County Commissioner (CC), Mohammed Barre has said most of the theft cases perpetuated in coffee factories have similar characteristics and claimed that part of management of the factories were involved in the stealing.
Addressing residents during Mashujaa Day celebrations at Kangari, Barre wondered why the coffee was kept at the facility for long without taking berries to processors.
When thieves storm the factories, the CC noted they usually have full information on where the best coffee was being stored and it takes them a short time to pack the produce in waiting lorries and leave.
He accused the management of the coffee factories for being merciless to farmers who used their efforts and resources to produce coffee then at last they lack the expected earnings.
“We are heading to a season of harvesting coffee and am warning the management of the coffee factories over theft of farmers’ produce. It is very unfortunate after farmers harvest their cash crop, they lack income,” said Barre.
He urged farmers to elect trustworthy leaders who could manage their produce well, saying some of the guards employed to man the factories also colluded with thieves.
The county has for the past few years been witnessing theft of coffee from various factories leaving farmers counting losses.
Apart from theft cases, the sector has been affected by poor payment where some factories pay as little as Sh.20 per kilo of coffee.
The CC said Kenyan coffee was one of the best worldwide and if the sector was well management, farmers could earn better returns.
Some of instituted coffee theft cases were still pending in courts with farmers wondering how long it would take to prosecute individuals behind the theft.
On tea, the CC called on farmers not to uproot their tea bushes following this year’s reduced bonus.
He explained that tea has been one of the country’s top foreign exchange earners and the government was working to ensure the sector is well managed for the benefit of farmers.
“We have not reached at the point of uprooting tea bushes. Farmers should avoid unnecessary politics as the government is working out on measures to ensure farmers get better returns for their produce,” he added.
His sentiments were echoed by Kigumo MP, Ruth Mwaniki who asked farmers to give KTDA time to get new markets for their tea.
He cited political instability in countries which buy Kenya’s tea and asked KTDA not to rely on specific buyers but search for new markets.
“We accept there were political instabilities in countries which buy Kenyan tea but this should push KTDA to work out on getting new markets for Kenyan tea which ranks among the best in quality countrywide,” she added.
On his part, Murang’a Senator, Irungu Kang’ata said he would push for establishment of a Tea Directorate which would specifically handle matters of tea.
Currently, the directorate falls under Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) with the Senator, saying it could not handle properly problems affecting the tea sector.
“The Senate is pushing to have an independent Tea Directorate which will be entrusted to improve tea sector and look at the grievances of farmers,” he noted.
By Bernard Munyao